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TWiP 65 letters


Perry writes:

Greetings Vincent and Dick,

Hooray for finally mentioning G. pulchrum in episode 62, my most favorite parasite and one worthy of further discussion. As a diagnostic veterinary pathologist, I encounter this spirurid in approximately one third of the dairy cows I autopsy. It is much more common than you surmised. I make a big deal out of its frequent occurrence, not because of its pathogenicity (essentially none), but because it is a paradigm organism. It insinuates itself in the esophageal mucosa, wriggling back and forth in the epithelial layer as it advances (that is why it is called the 'ribbon candy' worm) thereby maintaining its hold and evading immune surveillance. The paradigm is that it is a beautiful example of an innocuous host parasite realtionship and the fact that most diagnosticians readily overlook it. Students of pathology all too often 'look' but fail to 'observe'. A south african veterinary pathologist told me that Gongylonemiasis occurs in the mouth of poor ruaral children, presumably due to the ease with which they ingest an infected beetle intermediate. It has been some time since I last reviewed the literature, but I believe the nematode is world-wide and capable of parasitizing innumerable mammalian species. I enjoy your program, biomedical science musings and digressions. Keep up the good work.

Curt writes:

Hello, Vincent and Dickson!

First, let me start with some praise. I thoroughly enjoy all of the TWiXcasts, but I appreciate TWiP in particular for its one-on-one format and the wealth of clinical experience and case studies that Dickson brings to bear in every episode. I finished Vincent's outstanding Coursera course recently- looking forward to part two, on that note- and it set me to wondering when Dickson is planning on doing a Coursera class on parasitism.

I'm writing because I'm curious if the military has ever tried to weaponize helminths. I'm aware of past efforts by the military to weaponize practically everything, especially in the realm of pathogens- running the spectrum from from Y. Pestis and Smallpox to Coccidiodes fungi. I wouldn't imagine that an attempt to weaponize helminths would be very successful, though, and attempts to imagine such a program are baffling at best.

Keep up the outstanding work, gentlemen, and thanks again for your time and effort.

Cathy writes:

Dear Professors Despommier and Racaniello,

I wanted to write to you to thank you for taking the time to do these fantastic podcasts. TWiP was recommended to me by a former colleague with whom I worked in Professor Paul Duprex's virology lab at Queen's University Belfast, before he moved to Boston University. Since working with Prof. Duprex I got my PhD in molecular parasitology, and now I work in St. George's University of London on the nanomal project (the link for which I've included) which you may find interesting:


We're developing a hand-held point-of-care diagnostic device for malaria that can give a diagnosis in under 20 minutes, but the really exciting part is it will be able to speciate and detect drug resistance-conferring mutations so an informed treatment choice can be made.

Being a malariologist I particularly enjoyed TWiP#35 with David Fidock, and my interest was especially piqued when the contentious subject of artemisinins' mode of action was brought up. I thought this was about to be explored but alas, it was not. Of course, there are not enough hours in the day to debate that subject. If you are interested, however, we recently published an opinion article in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences on the subject which I have attached. Professor Fidock mentioned the haem hypothesis, but I am more in favour of the SERCA hypothesis, which postulates that artemisinins specifically inhibit the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) of the plasmodia parasites. People may feel that knowing the mode of action of a drug is purely academic, but as you are well aware drug resistance is a serious problem for controlling malaria, and knowing how a drug works can help identify any mutations responsible and hopefully overcome resistance.

Thank you again for all the time and effort you put in to these podcasts. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about different parasites, not to mention american history and piscatorial pursuits, and constantly recommend TWiP to my fellow parasitologists. I plan to start listening to TWiV but it's been quite a while since my virology days. I hope I can keep up!

Yours sincerely,

Lisa writes:

Hello to Vincent and Dickson, TWIP

First may I say, that it's great you are putting such in-depth content out in the public domain, People such as yourselves, with vast amounts of knowledge and years of experiences giving your knowledge freely is fantastic and I apualde your for it. And not to mention your presentation style is superb and funny.

The Microbe world fascinating to me, I bought a decent Amscope microscope last year, I have always wanted one but after getting into TWIV /TWIP /TWIM, I finally bought one. I've used it many times looking at pond life/mouth bactria/poo from my dog "Bella" who is female and very coprophagic towards next doors cat :( I basically put anything i dare put on a slide to the horror of my fella, Our daughter loves it too, with all the "yucks" and "Errrs".

Anyway to cut a long story short, Not that I have been waiting for a decent infection but last week I contracted what I thought could only be described as food poisoning, after 24 hours of (diarrhea/vomiting/burping/feeling bloated/major cramps) I thought the best thing to to is check a stool sample, naturally..... As I had never been so ill
My thoughts were that it could be Food poisoning but i wasn't convinced, after going back and hearing TWIP #16 Giardia Lamblia it rang a few bells.

On investigation all could see no Giardia Cysts but I could see many uniform tubes with constrictions at the end, Being uniform and tube like my first thought was Dog Tapeworms? Or could it just simply be something I ate as it looks like plant matter, I'm sure if it is parasite debris then Dickson can identify it in a jiffy.

After searching Google to no avail, I feel I may need a copy of "People, Parasites, and Plowshares" for future use?

Here are a few pictures of the tube like forms? Seeing as though Dickson has seen many stool samples in his time, I thought it to be great opportunity to write in and express my gratitude for all the great work you are doing plus a token of that appreciation.

Keep up the good work and thank you so much for bringing science to the rabble.



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